Saturday, September 29, 2012

Thoughts on Body Image

Having just had a baby I think about, and work on getting my body back into shape. Since I had a sweet baby girl I also stress about teaching her to have a healthy body image as she grows up in a world where looking a certain way seems to take top priority. My baby girl may end up being tall and naturally skinny like her dad or she may end up being short and stocky like me, or a mix of the two, or something completely different. No matter how she looks though I want to teach her to love and take care of her body.

I have babysat and/or nannied for various families over the years and I have been witness to the effect parents' views on health, working out, and weight have on their children. Particularly on their daughters. These parents have inadvertently given their very young girls the wrong ideas about body image. These girls {starting as young as three years old} already stress about their weight.

I had one little girl tell me that she needed to work out more because she was getting fat. I'm pretty sure she was five years old when she said that to me. She told me that because she had seen and heard her mom say these things about her own body. This little girl saw how much her mom stressed about her weight so she thought it was something she needed to stress about as well.

I had a family of girls who I would babysit on their mom's day off from a busy schedule so that she could go to the gym for hours. These girls noticed that their mom chose to go to the gym over spending time with them and they often brought up weight and working out with me.

Another family had little girls who were weighing themselves almost every day and telling their mom how much they weighed to get her approval. {I won't even post some of the awful responses they were given when they would tell her their weight.} These children would also comment on each other's weight. With one of the little girls calling her older brother fat. When I told her that you do not call your siblings fat she responded, "Well, Mom says it." How do you respond to that?!

Another girl once said, "I need to work out more so that my daddy loves me." She was seven. This little girl thought she needed to be skinny to have her father's love because she had seen the way he pressured her mother to be skinny.

I am not judging these families because I am sure that they are all trying their hardest to do what is right for their bodies, their kids, their lives, etc. However, I do want to learn from these examples and do my best to teach my daughter {and other future children} to take care of themselves and be healthy, but even more importantly to love the beautiful bodies that God has created for them.

As I start getting my body to where I want it to be {healthy and something I am comfortable and happy in} I am also thinking about how to portray this goal to my children. I am sure that I will make mistakes but I hope to learn from them. I do not want my children to feel like my focus in life is to be skinny. I do not want them to feel like I choose working out {or any other activity} over them on a regular basis.  I want being active to be a part of our family life. Something that we do for fun AND to stay healthy. I hope that I can accomplish these things and that as our family grows we can all be healthy and happy. That's a good goal, right?

P.S. Don't forget to enter the giveaway!

The view on my daily run.

Family walks are a new favorite activity. 


  1. That is so sad. I grew up on the opposite end of the weight spectrum, being too skinny. I was always told by my peers that I was disgusting and looked like a cancer patient. I used to pray to gain weight. I finally feel like I have gotten to a comfortable place with my body, but the hurtful comments haven't stopped!
    I applaud you for thinking about this so early in your daughters life. She will thank you for it later! All bodies should be celebrated because they are miracles! And you grew hers, so there's love for you! :)

  2. Your experiences with the other families is blowing my mind! I mean I've heard somewhat similar things but nothing nearly that bad! And I am ALL about the healthy body image. It's so important. You miss out on so many great things if you're worried about your body looking perfect. Plus, is that any way to treat one of the greatest gifts we have been given?! Holland is a lucky girl :)

  3. Emma! Thanks for this! I feel the exact same way! These examples are great learning tools and I never want my children to feel like they have to have a perfect body image either. :)

  4. You always amaze me Emma, some of those stories made me so sad, but I know how this world can be sometimes and how gaining that sort of perception happens. You are such a good Mum, remembering already how it's your own example that will teach your daughter. :)You are awesome!

  5. My sister has a food hoarding disorder. Even though I did not have disordered eating, people would often express that I was gaining weight or that I might end up heavier. Sometimes people who meant well made comments that I still have concerns about and I have to work on not thinking about that.

    I love that you are already thinking about these things. It is something we talk a lot about and something I need to improve before we have children.

    Thanks for sharing :)

  6. this is such a good topic to discuss. Such a great reminder to focus on the right things... being healthy - but being with family and not obsessing. Really crazy stories you have. So sad for the kiddos. Thanks for the reminder to be watchful of what we portray to our kids - whether through words or actions. :) You're darling, by the way. Aren't babies so amazing!?

  7. I totally agree with your perspective. I know girls are the ones that are usually targeted, but I think it's partly because we're more vocal about it....I think that guys have it just as hard. It's so important how parents talk about their own bodies and how they act to teach healthy body image to their children. Thanks for this post!

  8. i can't believe parents would put such an emphasis on weight surely it should be an emphasis on health, making surr your kids are eating healthily and doing exercise rather than just what the scales say.

    i hope that i can also bring up my children to have a balanced perspective on weight and not to worry about it oo much.

    it hink your perspective is so right :)

  9. This is one of the reasons Im glad I had a boy...girls are faced with so much more. Glad you are living a healthy definitely begins at home!

  10. I love this. Holland is one lucky little girl. :)

  11. So sad but true about how younger girls worry about their body image! I'm glad you're going to take charge while she's young and teach her good eating habits and that's she's a precious daughter of our Heavenly Father (: Also, I was just stalking your blog earlier and loved your birth story! I'm hoping to go all natural as well but after reading your story it made me feel calm if things don't go according to my birth plan!

    Dearest Lou

  12. Gag, those stories sounds HORRIBLE! Those girls are going to become just like their mommas :(

    p.s. love your blog :)

  13. This is just terrible, and it makes me so sad to hear! I'm glad you're making a conscious decision to be a good role model for your daughter in all areas, including her self-image. What a sweet, wonderful mom you are Emma :)